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October 14, 2014

Florida Temple Latest Target For ISIS Sympathizing Hackers

Update – 10/15/14: ADL alerted Facebook about the “Team System Dz”  Facebook page. The page was removed from Facebook by the following day. ADL applauds Facebook’s response to the hacker group’s effort to exploit its service. 

Last week, as Jews were celebrating the holiday of Sukkot, a hacker group calling itself “Team System Dz” attacked the website of Temple Kol Ami Emmanu-El in South Florida, redirecting visitors to a page with messages expressing support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).team-system-dz-florida-temple-hackers

Visitors to the synagogue’s website were directed to statements in English such as “I love you ISIS” and an Arabic statement promising to “never forget about the heroes of the Muslim Ummah [nation] who sacrificed their lives for the sake of God,” an apparent reference to ISIS fighters. Visitors also saw an image of the Star of David crossed out next to the words, “F[ ] You Israel.

This incident is the latest in a series of attacks against Jewish institutional websites carried out by groups apparently based in the Middle East and North Africa. While past hacking efforts against Jewish institutions have focused on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, more recent attacks against Jewish and non-Jewish targets are being carried out in the name of ISIS.

“Team System Dz” claimed credit for and bragged about its “hacks of Jewish websites especially the website of the Miami temple” on its Facebook page. The claim of credit noted that the attack “coincided with the time of one of the Jewish celebrations [and] created a big noise on media sites.” The group’s Facebook page also claims to have targeted other websites, including other Jewish and Israeli websites around the world.

Yesterday the group threatened additional attacks against American and Israeli websites. “…we will spend all the time for a massive number of attacks on American and Israeli websites, with God’s will they will be hacked. Curse upon America and Israel.”

The group appears to be based in Algeria; its Facebook profile cover image includes the phrase “Proud to be Algerian” and other posts feature Algerian flags and symbols. The “Dz” in the group’s name seems to be a reference to the internet domain designation for Algeria. Furthermore, most announcements on the page are written in the Algerian Arabic dialect.

In addition to “Team System Dz,” the name “Jordan Earthquake” in Arabic was also listed on the page that the temple’s visitors were redirected to.  “Jordan Earthquake” appears to be a hacker closely affiliated with “Team System Dz.” Various posts on the group’s Facebook page indicate that “Jordan Earthquake” is a partner in several of its hacking operations.

The “Team System Dz” Facebook page also contains materials prepared by the media bureau of ISIS. The group’s Twitter handle uses several ISIS-related hashtags and includes links to many media accounts about the temple’s website’s hacking.

Jewish websites in the U.S. have become a common target for hacker groups in the Arab and Muslim world. Below is a sampling of attacks launched by various hacker groups against Jewish institutions in the U.S. in the past few years.

  • In July 2014, The Moroccan Islamic Union-mail hacker group claimed responsibility for vandalizing the websites of Jewish congregations in Pennsylvania and Houston with messages in support of Gaza.
  • In December 2013, the Tunisia based group, Fallaga, hacked the website of the Missouri-based Jewish Radio.
  • In July 2013, the website of a Jewish communal high school program in upstate New York was hacked by a member of the Gaza Hackers Team. The website was defaced with anti-Israel messages.
  • In December 2012, the Bangladesh Cyber Army hacker group targeted the website of a Temple in Omaha and posted images depicting what the group called “Israel killing children.”

Other hacker groups like aljyyosh (“the armies” in Arabic) claim to have hacked into personal information belonging to American Jews and Israelis and provided instructions on how to hack into such personal information on their various online forums.

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October 8, 2014

Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail Now Hacking For ISIS

The Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail hacker group, which targeted Jew­ish web­sites in the United States in support of Hamas during Operation Protective Edge, has claimed credit for hacking into the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s website on Monday.moroccan-union -islamic-electronic-mail-google

Visitors to the academy website were redirected to a site that featured an image of an apparent cemetery for American soldiers with a message that reads: “Iraq is the graveyard of America. Welcome to the death that awaits you at the hand of the Mujahedeen in Iraq.” The site also includes an audio clip of an Islamic Jihadist song that glorified Islamic conquests.

In August, the Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail’s Facebook page included statements threatening the U.S .with cyber-attacks in response to the American military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The statement read:

After focusing on Israeli targets during the aggression on Gaza, the Moroccan Islamic Union-mail declares targeting important websites in America in support of the Iraqi people and in response to the American airstrikes.

The Facebook page, which has since been removed, featured various comments and images expressing solidarity with ISIS and condemning military intervention in Iraq.

The group uses various online platforms to claim responsibility for its hacks and to promote its views, including an Arabic-language blog, a YouTube channel and various Facebook pages that claim to be affiliated.

ADL first exposed the group’s hacking efforts in July after several Jewish institutional websites were hacked by the group.

The group has also claimed responsibility for hacking the website of the Nepalese embassy in the U.S. Its claim of responsibility read: “The Moroccan Islamic Union-mail hacks the embassy of Nepal in America and pulls several data. We will attack the interests of America worldwide, with God’s willing, to respond to the American air strikes against the Iraqi people.”

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August 20, 2014

Americans Respond To ISIS Recruitment

Update– 8/27/14: Douglas McAuthur McCain of San Diego, died while fighting with ISIS in Syria in August 2014.

Even as it fights on a number of fronts in the Middle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al Qaeda-inspired terrorist group that claims sovereignty in sections of Syria and Iraq, continues to recruit westerners through its sophisticated online propaganda campaign.al-hayat-ad-propaganda

Some Americans are heeding the call.

In 2014, five of the six Americans arrested in the U.S. for attempting to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq were accused of attempting to join ISIS: Donald Ray Morgan of North Carolina in August (arrested on weapons charges but believed to have been attempting to join ISIS); Shannon Maureen Conley of Colorado in July; Adam Dandich of California in July (charged with passport fraud but believed to have been attempting to join ISIS); Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas in June; and Nicholas Teausant of California in March. The sixth, Mohammed Hassan Hamdan of Michigan, allegedly attempted to fight in Syria with Hezbollah.

Furthermore, In June the FBI said it launched an investigation into 15 Somali Americans from Minnesota believed to have joined ISIS.

At least two other Americans have appeared in videos released by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.A video released in August 2014 featured an alleged American national called Abu Abdu­rah­man al-Trinidadi encouraging others to join ISIS. And in May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was identified in a Jabhat al-Nusra video as having participation in a suicide attack.

U.S. intelligence officials estimate that over 100 American nationals have travelled to join the conflict in Syria, a conflict that has since spread to Iraq.

The effect of ISIS’ increased strength and notoriety, as well as its advanced online recruitment strategies, appear to be having an effect. Of the seven known Americans who either traveled to or attempted to travel to Syria to fight with militants last year, only one was believed to have fought with ISIS; a video released online in November 2013 featured an apparent American called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, praising ISIS.

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